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Asian shares rebound after Wall Street rally

Asian markets climbed on Thursday, boosted by bargain hunting and a positive lead from Wall Street that came despite a worse-than-expected first quarter contraction in the US economy.

HONG KONG: Asian markets climbed on Thursday, boosted by bargain hunting and a positive lead from Wall Street that came despite a worse-than-expected first quarter contraction in the US economy.

Tokyo rose 0.27 percent, or 41.88 points to 15,308.49, Sydney jumped 1.15 percent, or 62.29 points, to 5464.3 and Seoul added 0.67 percent, or 13.28 points, at 1,995.05.

Shanghai ended 0.65 percent, or 13.18 points, higher at 2,038.68 and Hong Kong rallied 1.45 percent, or 331.13 points, to 23,197.83.

With little to drive business, investors picked up cheap stocks after Wednesday's sell-off, with sentiment buoyed by a batch of healthy data this week, including Chinese manufacturing and US homes sales and consumer confidence.

In the United States, the Commerce Department said the world's number one economy shrank a steep 2.9 percent in the first three months of 2014, sharply worse than the previous estimate of 1.0 percent.

The figure is the worst since the height of the global financial crisis five years ago. But it was widely brushed off by economists, who described it as a blip caused by the severe winter at the start of the year which hammered, among other things, jobs growth and retail sales.

Most expect a strong rebound over the rest of the year.

On Wall Street, the Dow added 0.29 percent and the S&P 500 rose 0.49 percent, while the Nasdaq advanced 0.68 percent.

But while the US growth news had no impact on stocks, the dollar came under pressure, with analysts saying it could have a bearing on when the Federal Reserve decides to hike interest rates.

On foreign exchange markets, the dollar bought 101.78 yen compared with 101.86 yen in New York late Wednesday.

The euro changed hands at $1.3622 and 138.66 yen, against $1.3628 and 138.82 yen.

Oil prices were mixed after hitting nine-month highs in recent weeks on the back of the Iraq crisis, which sparked fears of a supply bottleneck.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate rose eight cents to $106.58 a barrel, while European benchmark Brent dropped 20 cents to $113.80.

While dealers are still tracking events in the Gulf, fears are have eased for now that a militant drive across the country will see its main oil fields taken over.

Gold fetched $1,309.11 an ounce at 1145 GMT compared with $1,312.60 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

-- Bangkok rose 0.61 percent or 8.99 points to 1,477.48.

Telecoms company Advanced Info Service added 2.79 percent to 221.00 baht, while oil company PTT rose 2.67 percent to 308.00 baht.

-- Jakarta rose 0.69 percent, or 33.44 points, to close at 4,872.42.

Palm oil producer Astra Agro Lestari rose 1.03 percent to 29,300 rupiah, while Hero Supermarket fell 0.93 percent to 2,665 rupiah.

-- Manila climbed 0.84 percent, or 57.50 points, to close at 6,892.18.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 2.0 percent to 2,958 pesos and Ayala Land added 0.32 percent to 31.40 pesos.

-- Mumbai fell 0.18 percent or 44.45 points to 25,201.80.

Bharat Electronics rose 7.73 percent to 1961.35 rupees, while United Spirits slid 7.73 percent to 2589.30 rupees.

-- Kuala Lumpur was flat, edging down 0.02 percent or 0.42 points to 1,889.97.

Axiata Group shed 0.1 percent to 6.98 ringgit, while Public Bank lost 0.6 percent to 19.90. Budget carrier AirAsia gained 2.7 percent to 2.27 ringgit.

-- Singapore rose 0.52 percent, or 17.03 points, to close at 3,278.57.

Singapore Telecommunications rose 0.26 percent to Sg3.88 while Singapore Airlines gained 0.10 percent at S$10.36.

-- Taipei advanced 0.85 percent, or 78.78 points, to 9,320.94.

Smartphone maker HTC rose 1.5 percent to Tw$134.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.81 percent higher at Tw$124.5.

-- Wellington rose 0.50 percent, or 35.61 points, to 5,130.15.

Trade Me was up 1.16 percent at NZ$3.49 and Telecom added 0.19 percent to NZ$2.695.

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